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Business Writing for Dummies


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Table of Contents

Introduction 1 About This Book 2 Foolish Assumptions 2 How This Book Is Organized 3 Part 1: Winning with Writing 3 Part 2: Applying Your Skills to Business Messages and Documents 3 Part 3: Writing to Present Yourself Effectively 3 Part 4: Evolving Your Writing for Online Media 4 Part 5: Extending Your Writing Skills 4 Part 6: The Part of Tens 4 Icons Used in This Book 4 Beyond the Book 5 Where to Go from Here 5 Part 1: Winning with Writing 7 Chapter 1: Make Writing Your Not-So-Secret Weapon 9 Putting Good Writing to Work for You 10 Planning and Structuring Every Message 12 Applying the Goal-Plus-Audience Strategy to All Business Needs 16 Succeeding with email, letters, and business documents 16 Writing for the spoken word 17 Writing online: From websites to blogs to tweets 18 Special purpose writing 18 Taking the global perspective 19 Chapter 2: Planning Your Message Every Time 21 Adopting the Plan-Draft-Edit Principle 22 Fine-Tuning Your Plan: Your Goals and Audience 23 Defining your goal 23 Defining your audience 25 Brainstorming the best content for your purpose 30 Writing to groups and strangers 31 Imagining your readers 32 Making People Care 33 Connecting instantly with your reader 34 Focusing on what's-in-it-for-me 34 Highlighting benefits, not features 35 Finding the concrete, limiting the abstract 36 Choosing Your Written Voice: Tone 38 Aligning tone with the occasion, relationship, and culture 38 Writing as your authentic self 39 Smiling when you say it 40 Using Relationship-Building Techniques 41 Showing active caring and respect 41 Personalizing what you write 42 Framing messages with "you" not "I" 43 Chapter 3: Making Your Writing Work: The Basics 45 Stepping into Twenty-First-Century Writing Style 45 Aiming for a clear, simple style 46 Applying readability guidelines 47 Finding the right rhythm 50 Achieving a conversational tone 53 Energizing Your Language 54 Relying on everyday wording 55 Choosing reader-friendly words 56 Focusing on the real and concrete 57 Finding action verbs 58 Crafting comparisons to help readers 60 Employing Reader-Friendly Graphic Techniques 61 Building in white space 62 Choosing a typeface 62 Keeping colors simple 64 Adding effective graphics 64 Breaking space up with sidebars, boxes, and lists 65 Chapter 4: Self-Editing: Professional Ways to Improve Your Work 67 Changing Hats: From Writer to Editor 68 Choosing a way to edit 68 Distancing yourself from what you write 70 Reviewing the Big and Small Pictures 71 Assessing content success 72 Assessing the effectiveness of your language 73 Avoiding telltale up-down-up inflection 74 Looking for repeat word endings 75 Pruning prepositions 78 Cutting all non-contributing words 80 Moving from Passive to Active 83 Thinking "action" 83 Trimming "there is" and "there are" 84 Cutting the haves and have nots 85 Using the passive deliberately 85 Sidestepping Jargon, Cliches, and Extra Modifiers 86 Reining in jargon 86 Cooling the cliches 88 Minimizing modifiers 89 Chapter 5: Fixing Common Writing Problems 91 Organizing Your Document 92 Paragraphing for logic 92 Building with subheads 93 Working with transitions 95 Working in lists: Numbers and bulleting 97 Catching Common Mistakes 101 Using comma sense 102 Using "however" correctly 103 Matching nouns and pronouns 104 Weighing "which" versus "that" 106 Considering "who" versus "that" 107 Choosing "who" versus "whom" 107 Beginning with "and" or "but" 108 Using sentence fragments 108 Ending with prepositions 109 Fine-tuning punctuation 109 Reviewing and Proofreading: The Final Check 112 Checking the big picture 112 Proofreading your work 114 Creating your personal writing improvement guide 115 Part 2: Applying Your Skills to Business Messages and Documents 119 Chapter 6: Writing Messages That Get Results 121 Fast-Forwarding Your Agenda with Email 122 Starting Strong 124 Writing subject lines that pull people in 124 Using appropriate salutations 127 Drafting a strong email lead 127 Building Messages That Achieve Your Goals 128 Clarifying what you want 129 Assessing what matters to your audience 130 Determining the best content 132 Structuring Your Middle Ground 134 Closing Strong 136 Polishing Your Email 136 Monitoring length and breadth 137 Simplify style 137 Going short: Words, sentences, paragraphs 138 Using graphic techniques to promote clarity 138 Using the signature block 140 Good Letter Writing Techniques 141 Chapter 7: Creating High-Impact Business Materials 145 Creating Valued Reports 146 Writing activity reports 146 Reporting project results 151 Fast-Tracking Your Proposals 152 Writing formal proposals 152 Writing informal proposals 155 Applying for grants 158 Writing an Executive Summary 160 Giving perspective to complex material 161 Determining what matters 162 Putting headlines to work 163 Writing Tips for All Business Documents 165 Part 3: Writing to Present Yourself Effectively 167 Chapter 8: Speaking Well for Yourself 169 Building Your Elevator Speech 170 Defining your goal 171 Defining your audience 171 Strategizing your content 172 Representing your organization and yourself 175 Preparing and Giving Presentations 177 Planning what to say 177 Crafting your presentations with writing 181 Integrating visuals 182 Standing and delivering 184 Composing Talking Points for Live Interaction 185 Chapter 9: Telling Your Business Stories 189 Finding Your Core Business Message 190 Searching for true value 192 Making your case in business terms 195 Finding, Shaping, and Using Stories 196 Finding your story 197 Building your story 198 Story-writing tips 199 Putting stories to work 201 Telling Your Story with Video 202 Deciding how to use video 203 Using video for marketing 205 Introducing yourself with video 206 Sharing expertise with video 207 Chapter 10: Writing for the Job Hunt 209 Knowing and Expressing Your Value 210 Pinpointing your personal strengths 210 Pulling your ideas together 212 Writing Resumes That Win the Race 215 Choosing a format 216 Writing the summary statement 218 Building your work history section 219 Showing off strengths 221 Succeeding with Cover Letters 222 Planning a cover letter 222 Opening with pizzazz 223 Networking with Messages 224 Requesting informational interviews 224 Saying thank you 227 Part 4: Evolving Your Writing for Online Media 229 Chapter 11: Writing for the Digital World 231 Positioning Yourself Online 232 Strategizing Your Platform Choices 233 Breaking down your goals 235 Knowing where your audiences are 236 Assessing your skills and potentials 239 Writing for Digital Media 239 Loosening up 240 Keeping it simple and visual 241 Communicating credibility 242 Cutting hype, maxing evidence 243 Devising nonlinear strategies 244 Incorporating interactive strategies 244 Translating text into visuals 245 Chapter 12: Creating Your Online Presence 249 Creating a Website from the Ground Up 250 Determining goals, format, and audience 251 Planning a basic website 252 Creating the site structure 254 Assembling and writing a home page 255 Writing the About Us page 257 Writing the inside pages 258 Graphic tips for websites 259 Creating a Blog 260 Choosing your best subject 262 Developing tone and style 263 Creating magnetic headlines 263 Using progressive subheads 265 Networking with Twitter 265 Planning your Twitter program 266 Guidelines for tweeting 266 Writing Online Profiles 268 Using Social Media Platforms 269 Engaging with social media 270 Exploring content ideas 272 Part 5: Extending Your Writing Skills 275 Chapter 13: Writing and the Independent Worker 277 Writing Persuasively Cross-Media 278 Communicating with conviction 278 Connecting with your reader 280 Maintaining reader engagement 281 Giving people time 281 Introducing Yourself in Writing 282 Writing to Pitch Your Services 286 Creating Letters That Sell 288 Writing Difficult Messages 290 Spelling out services performed 290 Collecting on your invoices 291 Raising your fee structure 294 Communicating as a Virtual Worker 296 Pitching the Media 297 Writing traditional "press releases" 298 Writing email pitches 299 Finding ideas for the media 301 Chapter 14: Writing Well to Manage Well 303 Communicating as a Manager 304 Relating to your team members 305 Writing to inspire and motivate 306 Delivering bad news 307 Writing good news messages 313 Criticizing with kindness 314 Writing requests and giving orders 315 Writing to Higher-Ups 316 Guarding your tone 318 Avoiding the blame game 320 Making it easy to respond 321 Writing Backup Memos 323 Part 6: The Part of Tens 325 Chapter 15: Ten Ways to Advance Your Career with Writing 327 Write to Build Relationships 327 Write a Great Elevator Speech 328 Write Your Own Long-Range Career Plan 328 Write an Ad for Your Dream Job 328 Go Out of Your Way to Thank People 329 Take Notes to Control the Conversation 329 Use Social Media Strategically 329 Know How to Explain Your Value 330 Profile Your Higher-Ups 330 Create Talking Points 330 Chapter 16: Ten Ways to Energize Your Resume 331 Don't Apply for the Job You Have Now 331 Adopt the Employer's Language 332 Write Clearly and Concisely 332 Communicate What You Actually Do 332 Write Narratives, Not Just Bullets 333 Sidestep Jargon and Business-Speak 333 Use Action Verbs to Prove What You Accomplished 333 Write in a Confident, Positive Tone 334 Incorporate Keywords 334 Make It Look Good 334 Chapter 17: Ten Steps to Creating Video 335 Know Your Goal, Know Your Audience 336 Plan Your Production Style and Content 336 Write a Word + Picture Script 336 Create a Shot List 337 Lights, Action, Camera 337 Review Your Shoot and Other Resources 337 Find a Good Lead 338 Match Picture and Words 338 Craft the Right Words 338 Let Me Entertain You 339 Index 341

About the Author

Natalie Canavor is a business writer, magazine editor and workshop leader. She has won dozens of awards for her publications, articles and scripts. Her journalism credits include features for the New York Times, columns for business publications and advice for professional communicators. She is also the author of three books on business communication.

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